Wednesday, October 27, 2004

naval drill near korea

Apparently a couple of days ago, the Japanese, with U.S. supervision, staged a practice interception of a boat relatively close to North Korea. As the article describes, the Japanese and Americans were practicing intercepting boats carrying weapons of mass destruction. The Japanese are apparently worried that boats may be used to transport nuclear weapons or materials either in or out of North Korea and also possibly that a North Korean boat loaded with a WMD could be driven into a Japanese bay and detonated, as Professor Larsen mentioned in class. It probably was also meant as a message to the DPRK that the Japanese are prepared for an attack and are militarily capable, though the Japanese deny this (that it was a message). What I think is interesting is, since the U.S. was involved in the exercise, that the exercise really encapsulates the Bush administration's approach to the DPRK, which is the opposite of the relatively non-confrontational stance taken by earlier administrations. Bush has rejected appeasement and instead is trying to send a clear message to North Korea not to mess around. This strategy sounds nice, but it doesn't appear to be working any better than the aid-for-talks strategy. I think if we try to flex our muscles, Kim will simply escalate the situation and it will get to the point that Kim will only back down if we take a step we might not be prepared to take (like airstrikes). For example, shortly after this naval exercise, increased activity around missile sites was reported and there were rumors that the DPRK was preparing to test a rocket. What do you all think?

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